Blog - Doing Earthwork
Religious Ruts in Your Work World: Part 13Friday, June 18, 2010
RELIGIOUS RUTS IN YOUR WORKPLACE: PART 13
BUT SCRIPTURE MAKES IT CLEAR: YOUR WORK HELPS CARE FOR WHAT GOD CREATED
The other day, while speaking to encourage a group of Christians in their work, I asked them to discuss this question in teams of two: What would the world lose if no one did the kind of work you do? As it happened, one of the teams included a police officer and a firefighter. Afterward they told me with some excitement that neither of them had any trouble filling the time allowed with their responses to that question.
Many Christians have the idea that so-called “secular work” is just a front for witnessing. And (oh, yes) it pays the bills and generates money for supporting Christian causes. In this view, the work itself—whether it be digging, driving, designing, or what-have-you—really doesn't matter much to God. In “The Creation Mandate,” Joel Gillespie writes, “Many Christians struggle with seeing the significance of the work they are called to do. They . . . often do not see the significance of the work itself.”
But let's think this through—biblically. Christ-followers believe God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1 and 2 beautifully summarize how God took a shapeless, empty, dark, and watery earth and turned it into an “oasis in space,” a magnificent home for physical life. Boundaries replaced formlessness. Light overcame darkness. Land emerged from water. Multiplying plants and animals began to fill what had been an empty void.
And then God created those human beings. They alone, of all the creatures, were made in the likeness of the God who had just worked to create this habitable planet. And what did God say that these people in his likeness would do? They would “rule . . . over all the earth” (Gen. 1:26). They would “fill the earth and subdue it,” or as Today's English Version puts it, they would “bring it under their control” (28). In other words, these unique creatures made in the likeness of the working God would also work.
Genesis 2 makes this even plainer. Verse 2 calls the creating activity of God “the work he had been doing.” Verse 15 reports that God placed his human creature in the Garden of Eden “to work it and take care of it.” So man, in his caring-for-work, tends the creation-work of God.
Keeping planet earth in a condition to support plant, animal, and human life takes countless kinds of work. Building. Cleaning. Clothing. Feeding. Defending. Educating. Governing. Harvesting. Healing. Informing. Judging. Manufacturing. Mediating. Nurturing. Planting. Protecting. Repairing. Transporting. And this list barely scratches the surface of the work required for the well-being of life in this world.
God clearly intended to create a life-supporting planet. Would he then fail to arrange for the maintenance of what he had so carefully created? So your work (assuming it's legitimate), does matter to God. The work itself is one major way you contribute to the carrying out of his purposes—doing his will here on earth as it is done in heaven.
How would you answer the question that firefighter and police officer discussed so enthusiastically? What would the world lose if no one did the kind of work you do?